Not Another Mummy Blogger

Hi. I’m the writer from blue milk and I’m thrilled to be writing at Feministe. I write about motherhood from a feminist perspective and I sometimes write for the Australian feminist group blog, Hoyden About Town and other times I write for a couple of mainstream commercial publications. I also work half the week as an economist but I don’t know anything about personal budgets, sorry, as evidenced by my own household budgeting, which is woeful; so, if the figure doesn’t involve at least $100 million then I’m clueless.

I write about juggling work and family, about art and pop culture, about sex and arguments with my partner, about a bunch of traditional feminist topics like rape, breastfeeding, abortion, and the sexualisation of little girls, and I also write about politics. By and large, my writing is pitched squarely within the framework of motherhood and technically, I think this probably makes me a ‘mummy blogger’. I’m not all that offended by the term. I can see that it’s meant to be somewhat insulting, even children get embarrassed calling you ‘Mummy’ once they get to school, it is just that I am too tired to care. And there is a part of me that feels if a label is stigmatised like that then maybe it’s worth defending. After all, the belittling of mummy blogging has a lot in common with the ways in which mothers are marginalised.

There’s a lot we could do to improve the public discussion of motherhood but here is where I would start. We would not be so judgemental towards mothers if we recognised that mothering is work. If you aren’t yet able to accept mothering as work then you have some reading to do – it will involve economics and history. Start with the emergence of industrialisation when family work first became invisible. And if you can’t see that breastfeeding a baby was every bit as important as collecting firewood for family survival, then keep reading back through feudalism. But once you knock that patriarchal lens of distortion from your eyes you will never see mothers and children quite the same way again. Everywhere you look you will see something a little bit horrifying – hours and hours and hours and hours of unpaid labour. It is work performed very often with love; it is work with possibilities of personal reward and great satisfaction, much like some other jobs, except it is unpaid.

We would have better public policy and better rights for women if we were able to acknowledge more honestly that capitalism is not a marketplace, it is rather, a system that involves the intersection of the market with government, families and communities. We are talking about the greatest heist in capitalist history, because it is estimated that unpaid work in the USA amounts to 50 per cent of all hours of work performed. Imagine any other resource vanishing from the national spreadsheet like that. Capitalism, in its present form, could not survive without that unpaid support. It is not mothers who are draining the system, it is mothers and carers who are propping up the system.

I don’t want to over-complicate what is supposed to just be an introductory post here, but it says something about living in a patriarchy that we would have women specialise in a very demanding area of work that is both vitally important to us and utterly worthless in terms of monetary compensation, doesn’t it?

And there’s lots of other stuff to consider – children are not ‘units of production’, they’re small people who deserve to be nurtured with love and dedication; and yes, mothers are driven by an intense maternal desire to be with their children in spite of the sacrifices; and yes, self-ownership through individual wages was an incredibly important step in feminism and who am I, a mother in the workforce, to deny it? All I am saying is that you do not need to believe in universal minimum incomes and legislated entitlements for at-home parents/carers (though it would be nice) to know that there is a problem here when we penalize mothers through regressive tax systems and workplace discrimination for providing essential care work.

And while capitalism helped women mobilise collectively and seek ownership of resources you cannot pretend that capitalism and the patriarchy are not also mutually reinforcing, which is what you are doing when you tell mothers to just stop looking after kids and get a real job, already. Because whenever a mother enters the workplace a deal is being cut somewhere for childcare. Thinking care work vanishes when a woman’s time is suddenly accounted for in paid employment is patriarchal thinking. Either she is negotiating with a partner for him/her to stay home with the children (and obviously, this favours partnered parents over single parents and high-income couples over those in minimum wage jobs); or she is asking a female relative or friend to help out (more unpaid care on the balance sheet); or she is paying someone to look after the children (and fine, if she can afford to and is willing to pay a fair wage to someone for the task; but let’s not kid ourselves, childcare is female-dominated, poorly paid, and has a history of exploiting poor women for the task).

Ok, so this mother is now at work and by being there she sends important signals to her colleagues and employers about the role of women, she also sends a message to her partner (if she has one) and her children about her identity, she’s feeding her family, and hooray! she officially exists in the marketplace. Good for feminism, but as long as we don’t get ahead of ourselves and expect her to be the entire gateway for female liberation. In fact, it’s an uncomfortable notion but dual, high-income households have seen poor households slip even further behind since women joined the workforce. Turns out when rich women are working and marrying rich husbands, who are also working, that this only widens the gap between them and poor households. Go figure. Obviously, I’m not against women in the workforce but I’m saying this stuff is complicated. It will take a few bites of the apple before we get it sorted out.

If feminism, in approaching the unresolved question of mothers, does not recognise that motherhood is messy and emotional and diverse and political then it has missed the mark. It is important not to try to over-simplify mothers, not to stereotype them and not to ignore that their tasks are real work. Again and again in my writing I try to emphasize that last point, because I suspect much of the hostility towards mothers, including between mothers, would fade if we just understood that mothers are people trying to do a job and it’s consuming and tiring. It is difficult to imagine we would be bothered with The Mummy Wars if we were mobilising around the exploitation of unpaid care in our economy instead.

Because how ludicrous, how shameful, how utterly trivial our judgements of a teenage mother suddenly become with this one acknowledgement – that she is working, that it is hard work and it is for no pay and no recognition. Or our judgements of a mother with a disabled child having an outburst in public; or a mother breastfeeding her toddler; or a mother trying to help her teenage child with their drug addictions; or even, a mother blogging. (Oh, you want to tell me how I should do my unpaid work more to your liking? Fabulous, do tell). It sometimes helps to remember that even the most privileged mother is occasionally woken in the middle of the night by her sick toddler and sits bolt upright in bed, bleary-eyed and shivering in the dark, to catch vomit or shit in her bare hands. It may take some of the sting out of her, apparently, selfish lifestyle.

It is an uphill battle though, some of the fiercest defenders of mothering as a task too precious to be sullied with the term ‘work’ are mothers, themselves. There’s a lot invested in an identity when it is all you have. This does not mean that we can’t question the decisions mothers make or criticise the institution of motherhood. In fact, I would be lost as a mother without feminism and its difficult questions. But as feminists we must ask questions and listen to the answers, we must be prepared to change or expand our theories when we get it wrong, and I advise that we tread lightly in these discussions – that we tread as someone walking over the toil of unpaid workers.

About Guest: blue milk

blue milk is one of the 2012 roster of Feministe Guest Bloggers. She normally blogs at her own blog, Blue Milk and also contributes to Hoyden About Town.
This entry was posted in Class, Discrimination, Economics, Feminism, Labor, Marriage, Poverty, Work and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

130 Responses to Not Another Mummy Blogger

  1. Jadey says:

    And while capitalism helped women mobilise collectively and seek ownership of resources you cannot pretend that capitalism and the patriarchy are not also mutually reinforcing, which is what you are doing when you tell mothers to just stop looking after kids and get a real job, already.

    Oh god yes. This whole post. I mean, I imagine there’s still going to be a shitstorm (isn’t there always a shitstorm?), but yes yes yes.

  2. Jessica says:

    I’m a huge fan of your blog but never – for some reason – worked out you were an economist. It fits. I love your analysis mixed with understanding, your hybrid academic/expressive style. Can’t wait to read more. And if you want to be the Prime Minister one day that’s cool too.

  3. MissPrism says:

    Hurrah! I’ve loved your writing for years, blue milk, and I’m thrilled to see you here.
    (Zuzu was ace too – you’ve been picking well, Jill)

  4. Anu says:

    Glad to see you here blue milk! All the best for a productive series of discussions here.

  5. mxe354 says:

    Awesome post. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of your writing here.

  6. SWNC says:

    So glad you’re here, blue milk. You bring a much needed perspective.

    Because whenever a mother enters the workplace a deal is being cut somewhere for childcare. Thinking care work vanishes when a woman’s time is suddenly accounted for in paid employment is patriarchal thinking….let’s not kid ourselves, childcare is female-dominated, poorly paid, and has a history of exploiting poor women for the task.

    Beautifully put. The lack of monetary compensation and social respect that we give to those (overwhelmingly women) who work in childcare, elementary education, and eldercare is a HUGE feminist issue in my book.

  7. Lisa Kaplin says:

    Wow! So well written, so true, so frustrating and so freakin needed. Thank you!

  8. samanthab says:

    What a beautifully written and argued piece. I look forward to your future posts.

  9. mxe354 says:

    Also, I like how you made it very clear as to why exactly capitalism and the patriarchy go hand-in-hand. You explained it very articulately.

  10. Thank you for this beautifully written post/introduction! I, too, am a “Mommy Blogger” even though I hate the term. (I introduce myself as a Mom Blogger, which is only slightly more dignified). Even though I’m writing about the funny moments one has when parenting a small child, there is dignity to the “work” I do, both in the parenting and the writing. I hope that when my son gets over the teenage embarrassment of my blogging about him as a baby and toddler (and onward), that he will be grateful that I wrote about that portion of his life (and onward) and regard my blog as a piece of his history–just as the diaries of women throughout the years (when women were allowed to be literate) form an incredible tapestry for truly understanding history. Mommy Blogging is certainly unpaid work, but it is something that our descendents will be glad to have.

    And bravo for pointing out just how dang complicated this is. By making it all about Mommy Wars (another term I hate–I refer to it as the Matriarch Kerfuffle), society allows these issues to just be something those never-satisfied women are bitching about. We need to look it in the face and acknowledge the difficulty and complications if we ever want to find some kind of satisfactory method of handling a lot of shitty options.

  11. EmbraceYourInnerCrone says:

    I always liked the Professional parent idea from the In Death series by JD Robb it was set in the near future and when you adopted or gave birth either parent could choose to be a SAHM parent and would get a paycheck for doing that from the state. If both parents chose to work outside the home then good state sponsored daycare was available. What a nice dream…

  12. Kristen J. says:

    . Capitalism, in its present form, could not survive without that unpaid support. It is not mothers who are draining the system, it is mothers and carers who are propping up the system.

    This. x infinity.

  13. er says:

    Wonderful post! Thank you, blue milk & welcome! The complex vision you supply here of mothers, work and the patriarchy is much appreciated.

  14. rox says:

    I am so happy to see you here and have read your blog here and there over the years and seen some excellent writing there.

    I have been a nanny, babysitter, montessori assistant, and a stay at home mom dependant on others to stay at home with a child.

    I value staying home with my child and find that there is not much of a fight going on to empower more women who want to stay home but can’t due to financial obstacles/disability/single parenthood/becoming a parent as a result of sexual abuse etc etc–

    have to work very hard to find the support to stay at home– and not only that but if we manage to achieve staying at home while relying on support from others we are even further stigmatized, hated, and despised for valuing our childrens emotional development and the bond we have with them over fulfilling a stupid standard of what it means to “contribute” to society. I.e. that doing paid labor or having a title is more important than actually doing meaningful things in the world like doing a good job rearing children.

    The stigma is ridiculous and I have been disappointed to see that liberals and feminists participate as well as people on the right and who are opposed to progressive women’s activism. I prefer to stay home with my children and I believe that I am able to love and nurture and facilitate a meaningful bond with my own child in a way that, as a nanny and childcare worker, I can say is actively discouraged in professional caregiving.

    A paid caregiver can not have preferences, will not sacrafice their own well being to make SURE that this specific child is can make it to adulthood with as much health and self efficacy as possible- a paid caregiver can NOT and is not ALLOWED to commit to a child for life and children NEED those types of relationships. People who are in it for the whole deal and won’t come and go as they feel or as financial options or life opportunities come up elsewhere.

    What’s more, I am into neurobiology, gene environement interaction research, epigenetics, and environmental effects of health (this includes the physical and emotional environment and it’s effects on health and human development)

    And a secure loving childhood environment is so important for human development and physical and mental health. So many mental health, personality disorder, and physical health problems can be traced DIRECTLY to adverse family environments. We aren’t valueing the people who do this essential labor or creating policies and supports that allow and help them to do it well and embrace what they are doing without being bombarded with judgement and hatred. What if we actually invested in family wellness by providing better supports for enriching family activities, parent child bonding, access to home care and household help when parents deal with crisis or illness…. What if we acknowledged that supported mothers don’t have to reach for unhealthy coping mechanisms to make it through the days and better able to see and support the wellness of their children when they themselves are well?

    THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR THIS POST. And I look forward to everything you will write here.

  15. rox says:

    Also, I think there has been a push to get women into the workplace even if they feel they are already doing what they want to do… and a certain devaluing of women who don’t even remotely want to do labor just for the sake of having a title or earning money— when they can see that people int heir lives need care and they want to do what’s really important to them. Love people. In a way that doesn’t really fit the capitalist model of financial transtaction. And that the stability of relying on a marriage partner (or other financial base) in order to get needs met such that you can devote your love and care to people you can see need it, and show them you love them just because you do and not because you are being paid to…

    It’s a meaningful thing in the world I think we might regret trying to put wholly into the financial model. That said I do think paid labor can compliment these things, but that the ethical dilemmas of paying people crap to wipe poop so that wealthier people can visit the elderly parent once a week and keep them alive while not having to deal with the yucky part— it’s tricky business and deserves examination. Who really wants to be a poop wiper? If you don’t want to do this for your OWN parent, what on earth makes you think someone getting paid a small hourly wage wants to do this for your parent when they don’t even know anything about your parent at all and have not even created a meaningful bond with that person to know how to value and support their humanity beyond the state that person is currently in?

  16. rox says:

    BTW one thing I personally would like to see is caregiving and homecare becoming a part of socialized “medicine” in terms of mental and familial health.

    I would like to see simple services like housecleaning, organizing, managing chores and household taskes— being offered to families where there is someone physically/mentally ill, ongoing disability, or other crisis impairing the functioning of the family unit.

    Homecare services for the elderly would allow for more people to house their elderly in home while getting support with the labor. I.e. It might be as bad for YOU to help your mom walk to the bathroom and remind her to take her pills and help her get dressed– if you had outside help with the daily tasks of life to at least take that load off your shoulders. And it’s a lot easier to do a pile of dishes than to repetedly get attached to elderly dying people and caring for them and watching them die over and over.

    You’re either asking eldercare people to not have any emotional attachment to people they are caring for, or to be in deep pain regularly. Which do you want?

  17. rox says:

    (Sorry, I may be sensitive to this topic- I just looked into doing eldercare work for 8-10 dollars an hour including diapering and incontenance aid and found myself appalled that we really ask people to do this kind of work for such pay. I know my heart will become entwined with those I care for and the work will be emotionally extremely difficult. The only way I could imagine doing this is seeing human being as “a job” and going through the motions kindly, but ultimately with a lot of emotional distance, or being genuinely emotionally involved and being in pain watching people suffer and die repeatedly, while not even recieving a wage I could use to adequately provide a healthy environment for myself and my child.)

    I am learning disabled and can’t get through the education system but I am a loving devoted caregiver type. I find it awful that there is really no way for someone like me to manifest a wage where I could provide my family with a stable healthy life with activities and support and play…

    And what’s more, there is no hope that I might ever be able to have afternoons off or summers with my son. He will be in school/childcare over 40 hours a week indefinately. It breaks my heart. And it makes me sad that the only possible solution I can see is catching a man. I do NOT want to enter a romantic relationship for this reason and really, while I think relationships for quality of life purposes can work– the nature of seeking such an arrangement is so off putting TO ME that I’m not sure I could respect myself or even reomtely figure out how to make it mutually beneficial when I feel like I am using another human being. I don’t think it could work for me because it’s in conflict with deeply rooted values about what I want to give a partner.

    But what’s frustrating is that if I had entered motherhood voluntarily having found the right person simply because we were a good match, I would have been comfortable with relying on their income and staying at home and doing labor that pays less on going back to work. So in a weird way, I think we do find it ok for mothers to lean on a mate while child rearing (and fortunately, we are now allowing fathers to do the same as caregivers)… but yet we see women as evil and gold diggers for being open about wanting such arrangements at the same time.

  18. rox says:

    Or if it’s not evil and golddigger, it’s sort of a pitying way of looking at such women as not fully realized people and not realizing they should want and be something different– and that what they want to contribute is less valuable that women who get an education and work in the workplace do for society.

  19. chava says:

    Love your blog!

    On the general mummy feminist subject, I just got disinvited from a wedding. Or rather, my baby did. Repeat after me: excluding young children from public spaces and celebrations=excluding mothers.

  20. Past my expiration date says:

    excluding young children from public spaces and celebrations=excluding mothers.

    I know people who would not consider excluding mothers a problem, because

    1. public spaces and celebrations are for people, and mothers are merely former people.

    and/or

    2. public spaces and celebrations are for having fun, and mothers don’t have fun.

  21. On the general mummy feminist subject, I just got disinvited from a wedding. Or rather, my baby did.

    What the actual fuck? Babies are not half as disruptive as people freak out about their being. And yes, that’s excluding mothers and penalising women in a totally unacceptable way. (Also, I can see someone disinviting, say, a badly-behaved teenager from a wedding while inviting the rest of the teen’s family, but there’s no reason a parent can’t handle a pre-teen or younger well enough for me to invite them. And if they can’t, I’d just not invite the entire family. On an etiquette level, what happened to you was just plain shitty.)

    Also!

    On the one hand, “REAL marriage is all about procreation”

    Simultaneously, on the other, “The results of procreation are to be excluded from the solemnisation of this marriage.”

    Wow. Jesus fucking entitlement.

  22. chava says:

    Thanks. I mean, her wedding, her call–but she could have 1) made this clear BEFORE the wedding was a week off and I’ve bought a dress to fit my postpartum ass, and earrings., and 2) considered that nursing infants don’t always take bottles. Mine won’t.

  23. Safiya Outlines says:

    Past – Quite. As someone far too clever to have children recently informed us, we mothers only have 30% of the fun childfree people do.

  24. Spilt Milk says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post and much-needed perspective. Happy to see you here :)

  25. Leslie says:

    I love your post, blue milk. I read Feministe only occasionally at work as time permits, so I certainly haven’t followed all the commentary concerning the Mommy Wars controversy, but I find your analysis to be spot-on.

    Addressing the readers generally, I wonder how relevant you find earlier feminist analysis on this and related topics, e.g., “The Dialectic of Sex” by Shulamith Firestone, “The Mermaid and the Minotaur” by Dorothy Dinnerstein, and “The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community” by Selma James (founder of the Wages for Housework campaign). Of course, there is always new insight to be drawn from changing circumstances. The double day for women has become much more widespread since I started my feminist studies in the mid-70s, due to the tremendous growth in women’s paid work outside the home. Although a paycheck brings a certain measure of independence and power, it is also true that most families cannot get by on just one. The exhaustion and stress engendered, coupled with even higher expectations, leads to feelings of inadequacy no matter what choices we make. I believe it was Joe Hill that said, “Don’t agonize, organize!”

  26. aboat says:

    I’m with Jessica on this one. “BM for PM”!

    There. I just wrote your campaign slogan for you, so now there’s no excuse.

    Love your post. Love your blog. I recommend it to approximately every second person I speak to on just about any topic. So glad to see you here!

  27. Jill says:

    Thanks. I mean, her wedding, her call–but she could have 1) made this clear BEFORE the wedding was a week off and I’ve bought a dress to fit my postpartum ass, and earrings., and 2) considered that nursing infants don’t always take bottles. Mine won’t.

    The rule with weddings is that the people who are listed on the invitation are invited. Anyone not listed on the invitation isn’t invited. So yeah, if your name and your baby’s name were initially listed, that’s messed up that she then chose to disinvite the baby. But if the baby’s name was never listed then… I think that’s kind of your bad for making the assumption that you could bring the baby (or anyone else whose name wasn’t on the invite) to the wedding.

  28. Jadey says:

    The rule with weddings is that the people who are listed on the invitation are invited. Anyone not listed on the invitation isn’t invited. So yeah, if your name and your baby’s name were initially listed, that’s messed up that she then chose to disinvite the baby. But if the baby’s name was never listed then… I think that’s kind of your bad for making the assumption that you could bring the baby (or anyone else whose name wasn’t on the invite) to the wedding.

    News to me. My parents have been invited to weddings where it was assumed that my sister and I (as children) would also be attending without necessarily explicitly naming us on the invite under a general “and family” clause. Listing the name of an as-yet unborn infant would be somewhat tricky.

    And if chava was specifically disinvited because she would need to bring her nursing infant, how is that not still a shitty thing to do? That is still basically saying, “Mums unwanted at my wedding”. And bringing a baby is less disruptive than suddenly needing to bring an older child (say, the sitter fell through) who would require their own seat and meal at the reception.

    I’m not saying the bride and groom (assuming a het couple) were *obligated* to invite chava and her child, but it doesn’t change the fact that disinviting someone specifically because you want to exclude their infant is an asshole move. It’s hardly a question of “Oops, you didn’t RSVP for an extra person and we don’t have space to fit them in!” when it’s a nursing child.

  29. chava says:

    @ Jill–

    I’ve seen that rule bent both ways, actually. I didn’t list children on my invitations because it makes for an awk/long first line on the envelope, but they were more than welcome. I know people who’ve done the same. The Emily Post rule *is* as you describe it, but plenty of people do it differently.

    I feel like relying on a sometimes-followed, sometimes-not rule of etiquette to tell your guests something that crucial is….not particularly kind.

    Aside from which, her email telling me that a baby at her 300 person, black-tie wedding* would be “a very difficult situation” and an “inappropriate venue” for him was off-putting. I don’t like a lot of the relatives that will be at this wedding; some of them are loud, prejudiced, and mean. A few are senile or disabled. Weddings are suposed to be about family, however inconvenient; it’s just for some reason socially acceptable to bar children but not your racist Aunt Milly.

    * we were going to buy a tuxedo onesie. oh well.

  30. Kristen J. says:

    Aside from which, her email telling me that a baby at her 300 person, black-tie wedding* would be “a very difficult situation” and an “inappropriate venue” for him was off-putting.

    Interestingly, Mr. Kristen and I attended a 500+ black tie wedding earlier this year where children including infants were welcome. They even had kid centered activities and adults who were “assigned” as part of the wedding party to keep the kids somewhat entertained (can you guess where we were?). It was pretty much the most fun I’ve ever had in a floor length evening gown.

  31. Miss S says:

    A feminist econimist? Who acknowledges the link between capitalism and patriarchy? Who recognizes unpaid labor as labor?

    I LOVE THIS. Seriously. I’m not an economist because I don’t have the math skills for a PhD, or probably even a masters, but my undergrad major was econ, with a minor in women studies, so I’ve always loved the intersection of the two.

  32. Jill says:

    News to me. My parents have been invited to weddings where it was assumed that my sister and I (as children) would also be attending without necessarily explicitly naming us on the invite under a general “and family” clause. Listing the name of an as-yet unborn infant would be somewhat tricky.

    Right, if the invitation says Ms. Jadey and family, then that means immediate family — partner and children. But if the invite just lists the names of the adult(s), then the basic etiquette rule is that just the adults are invited. If there’s a question, then it’s on the guest to contact the bride/groom and ask — it is asking a lot that the bride call each of her guests and specify that she was following standard protocol and no, people not listed on the invite are not invited.

    That said, if Chava was actually disinvited that’s really messed up. However, if the situation is that Chava is still invited but the baby isn’t invited, then Chava wasn’t disinvited. She may be invited under circumstances that she doesn’t like, and she may be choosing not to go if she can’t bring her infant, but that does not amount to “This woman is barring moms from her wedding.”

    And if chava was specifically disinvited because she would need to bring her nursing infant, how is that not still a shitty thing to do? That is still basically saying, “Mums unwanted at my wedding”. And bringing a baby is less disruptive than suddenly needing to bring an older child (say, the sitter fell through) who would require their own seat and meal at the reception.

    And saying that not allowing small children at a wedding is akin to saying “Mums unwanted at my wedding” strikes me as really silly. Moms are welcome at the wedding. I’d bet that plenty of moms would be in attendance. Moms, being physical distinct beings from their children, are actually physically capable of going somewhere without their kids in tow (especially to a long, formal event). As for bringing an older child because a sitter fell through… first, bringing an uninvited guest sounds really incredibly rude although of course sometimes shit happens, but second, then shit happens and it’s one person and one particular unforeseen circumstance (although seriously, I would hope a parent would go to pretty serious lengths to find a replacement sitter before bringing someone to a wedding who wasn’t RSVPed). Which is very different than a situation you can control beforehand. I mean, I can understand the fianceed couples’ decision here — if they allow kids, then they basically have to allow all kids, which significantly raises costs and presents supervision issues and presents noise issues during a quiet ceremony. Babies cry; it’s what they do. I was at a wedding a month or so ago where a baby was screaming the entire time. And that’s fine if that couple was ok with that. But I can understand wanting your wedding to be adults only. And since moms are distinct individuals and babies can actually be cared for by someone else for a few hours, a “no babies at this wedding” rule is nowhere near the same as a “no moms at this wedding.”

  33. Past my expiration date says:

    if they allow kids, then they basically have to allow all kids

    Why?

    • Jill says:

      Because otherwise you offend more of your guests. If other guests actually read the invitation and went through the process of getting a sitter for their child, and then they show up and someone else brought a kid, they’re going to be offended and angry. For good reason.

  34. EG says:

    And since moms are distinct individuals and babies can actually be cared for by someone else for a few hours, a “no babies at this wedding” rule is nowhere near the same as a “no moms at this wedding.”

    Well, yes and no to both those things. Nursing infants and babies can’t actually be cared for by somebody else for a few hours, if they’re being breastfed, and if they are, the mother puts herself at risk by not being able to nurse for some hours. As for sitters…finding a sitter for a pre-verbal child who can’t tell you what’s happened while you’ve been gone is a dicey proposition for a parent, and if one falls through, it’s not so easy to find another, and by that I mean “possible.” So it does put significant obstacles in the way of new mothers attending, whether or not that’s the point. And that’s a couple’s right, of course, but it’s also new mothers’ right to be resentful and irritated about it.

    • Jill says:

      Well, yes and no to both those things. Nursing infants and babies can’t actually be cared for by somebody else for a few hours, if they’re being breastfed, and if they are, the mother puts herself at risk by not being able to nurse for some hours. As for sitters…finding a sitter for a pre-verbal child who can’t tell you what’s happened while you’ve been gone is a dicey proposition for a parent, and if one falls through, it’s not so easy to find another, and by that I mean “possible.” So it does put significant obstacles in the way of new mothers attending, whether or not that’s the point. And that’s a couple’s right, of course, but it’s also new mothers’ right to be resentful and irritated about it.

      Sure, it’s her right to be resentful and irritated (although there’s a level of… entitlement or something else there that is bugging me). But again, while I recognize that not allowing babies may create obstacles, it is not the same thing as having a “no-moms” policy at weddings, or “disinviting” mothers. Which is what was being said.

  35. EG says:

    And all this goes double if the wedding involves travel.

  36. Past my expiration date says:

    Because otherwise you offend more of your guests. If other guests actually read the invitation and went through the process of getting a sitter for their child, and then they show up and someone else brought a kid, they’re going to be offended and angry. For good reason.

    I would not consider it a good reason to be offended and angry if other guests actually read the invitation, and got a sitter for their non-infant child, and then they showed up and someone else had brought a young infant. “Kids” are not a monolithic unit from birth to age 18. Society recognizes this.

  37. chava says:

    Sure, it’s her right to be resentful and irritated (although there’s a level of… entitlement or something else there that is bugging me). But again, while I recognize that not allowing babies may create obstacles, it is not the same thing as having a “no-moms” policy at weddings, or “disinviting” mothers. Which is what was being said.

    Really, Jill? Entitlement…or something? I would like to be included in a family event. My baby won’t take a bottle, so I can’t leave him with anyone. When I was told that the ambiguous invite actually meant “no,” I responded to the couple graciously and bowed out. I reserve my right to be irritated at the whole thing. How the fuck is that “entitlement”?

  38. EG says:

    Well, you should’ve remembered that whole 30% of fun deal to begin with, I guess, assumed that you wouldn’t be able to go, and not presume that as a mother you have a right to negative emotions at all, I suppose.

    And hey, Chava–congratulations! I hadn’t realized that you’d just had a baby before this thread (I apologize if I was just oblivious before). I hope you and the new one are both doing well, and wish you both all the joy in the world.

  39. chava says:

    And saying that not allowing small children at a wedding is akin to saying “Mums unwanted at my wedding” strikes me as really silly. Moms are welcome at the wedding. I’d bet that plenty of moms would be in attendance.

    How nice for you. We could change it to, “Mothers are welcome at my wedding, as long as pay to leave those other people in their family, for whom they are most likely the primary caregiver, with someone ELSE.”

    Moms, being physical distinct beings from their children, are actually physically capable of going somewhere without their kids in tow (especially to a long, formal event).

    Some babies won’t take bottles. Some babies have severe stranger anxiety. Some children can’t talk yet and maybe you don’t want to leave a nonverbal kid with a sitter. OF COURSE mothers are capable of leaving their children. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing, and it doesn’t mean that cutting small children out of family events doesn’t de facto exclude mothers who will not come because they can’t pay for a sitter/pump enough milk/find responsible family care.

    As for bringing an older child because a sitter fell through… first, bringing an uninvited guest sounds really incredibly rude although of course sometimes shit happens, but second, then shit happens and it’s one person and one particular unforeseen circumstance (although seriously, I would hope a parent would go to pretty serious lengths to find a replacement sitter before bringing someone to a wedding who wasn’t RSVPed).

    If you knew that the lack of children was more important to the people getting married than your presence at the wedding, you should just stay home if that happens. Be annoyed all you like, but stay home. Hopefully the people involved would rather have you with them on their day, even if it means they might have to suffer your kid.

    Which is very different than a situation you can control beforehand. I mean, I can understand the fianceed couples’ decision here — if they allow kids, then they basically have to allow all kids, which significantly raises costs and presents supervision issues and presents noise issues during a quiet ceremony.

    Dates, spouses, and disagreeable cousins also raise costs. I was hesitant to invite kids to my wedding for cost reasons; I get that wedding insanity takes over. Thankfully my parents informed me I was being a dick.

    Aside from which, if you don’t want kids in the room, offer to pay for a sitter. That’s what a friend of mine who got married last week did, went swimmingly.

    Babies cry; it’s what they do. I was at a wedding a month or so ago where a baby was screaming the entire time. And that’s fine if that couple was ok with that. But I can understand wanting your wedding to be adults only. And since moms are distinct individuals and babies can actually be cared for by someone else for a few hours, a “no babies at this wedding” rule is nowhere near the same as a “no moms at this wedding.”

    If the baby cries, guess what, you can take them out of the room. And no, they don’t always cry. Many of them mostly sleep through that kind of thing. Also, here’s some news–most people with kids would probably leave early anyway.

    Look, Jill. I understand what you’re saying, and I don’t think couples who don’t invite the kids are bad people. I don’t like that society supports barring children to weddings; it’s a different thing. For one, part of the reason American children don’t know how to behave at nice events is that they are never expected to do so. Moreover, it feels like excluding a nice chunk of the “family” from your family event.

    I realize it may not seem like excluding mothers to you, but that’s how it feels on this end. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say it is excluding mothering.

  40. chava says:

    Thanks, EG! He’s fat and generally sweet.

  41. Lauren says:

    But again, while I recognize that not allowing babies may create obstacles, it is not the same thing as having a “no-moms” policy at weddings, or “disinviting” mothers. Which is what was being said.

    Right. “No kids” does not equal “no moms.” The feeling of “entitlement,” which struck me too, was in the conflation of the two.

    I have no problem with folks being irritated at a no kids policy — feel how you want — but the invitation list is defined by whoever is throwing the party and paying for it.

  42. Lauren says:

    Thanks. I mean, her wedding, her call–but she could have 1) made this clear BEFORE the wedding was a week off and I’ve bought a dress to fit my postpartum ass, and earrings., and 2) considered that nursing infants don’t always take bottles. Mine won’t.

    As far as etiquette goes, which is what I think this is ultimately about, she definitely should have made things clearer about whether or not children were welcome at the wedding. The short rule is that if they’re not on the invitation, the invitees need to ask or assume the answer is no.

    But I really don’t think #2 is up to the party planner. I’m not in the business of managing my friends’ kids’ quirks, or my sisters’ kids’ quirks, nor vice versa. That’s a lot to ask.

  43. Right. “No kids” does not equal “no moms.” The feeling of “entitlement,” which struck me too, was in the conflation of the two.

    Ahaha. You know what strikes ME? The fucking disgusting classism displayed by people who assume that everyone can pay for a sitter or a nanny and so have the freedom to leave an infant in someone’s care while they swan off to beach holidays.

    Of course, poor people shouldn’t be reproducing anyway, since we’ve already been gender-segregated in our workhouses, so that’s totally an imaginary intersection, right?

  44. Jadey says:

    Right. “No kids” does not equal “no moms.” The feeling of “entitlement,” which struck me too, was in the conflation of the two.

    I have no problem with folks being irritated at a no kids policy — feel how you want — but the invitation list is defined by whoever is throwing the party and paying for it.

    It’s true that “no kids” doesn’t always mean “no moms” (and I thought I was implying that, but I guess not) BUT in this case it clearly means that for chava. She cannot leave her child – for the time being she is functionally a unit with her infant and disinviting that child means disinviting her. This is not the case for ALL mothers, but it certainly is the case for a number of them, especially mothers who are less likely to be able to afford or have access to reliable childcare.

    And I made a point of saying that I don’t think anyone is obligated to have kids or mums at their gatherings, but it still doesn’t exempt them from being considered an asshole for doing so.

  45. Donna L says:

    He’s fat and generally sweet.

    My favorite kind! Congratulations!

    I think there’s a big difference between excluding a new baby and excluding an older child for whom it’s possible to get a sitter. I completely understand not wanting to have the actual ceremony disrupted by a screaming baby (or a screaming child of any age); it isn’t fair to expect anyone just to grin and bear it. But the ceremony itself doesn’t take very long (at least, mine didn’t), and if you’re part of a couple you can take turns holding the baby right outside the room, and if not you can simply get up and leave if the baby starts to make noise. I realize that if you’re in the wedding party you can’t really stand there under the chuppah holding a baby, but it ought to be possible to find someone to hold the baby just for that period of time. My ex’s best friend from high school had a new baby when we got married, and she found someone — I don’t remember who exactly — to take the baby for that brief period.

    Obviously it’s everyone’s choice as to how to handle their own wedding — and personally, I think there’s way too much attention and focus in general on creating some sort of “perfect” event (who cares, 20 years later?) — but I don’t see babies as insurmountable obstacles. Most weddings I’ve been to (most of which have been Jewish) are full of children, at least at the reception, and I would find an adults-only wedding to be rather depressing. But maybe that’s just me.

  46. Lauren says:

    Ahaha. You know what strikes ME? The fucking disgusting classism displayed by people who assume that everyone can pay for a sitter or a nanny and so have the freedom to leave an infant in someone’s care while they swan off to beach holidays.

    Ahaha. Moms are still invited. A baby, who is a separate and distinct person, was not invited. Yes, of course broad no-kid policies in the public at large have the effect of excluding mothers from social participation, this is well-trod ground. But making one formal event adults-only doesn’t exclude mothers as a class of people.

    People arranging social events for large groups of people have the privilege of planning the thing, and the people invited have the privilege to decline.

    “pay for a sitter or a nanny and so have the freedom to leave an infant in someone’s care while they swan off to beach holidays”

    Totally the same thing.

  47. zuzu says:

    Really, Jill? Entitlement…or something? I would like to be included in a family event. My baby won’t take a bottle, so I can’t leave him with anyone. When I was told that the ambiguous invite actually meant “no,” I responded to the couple graciously and bowed out. I reserve my right to be irritated at the whole thing. How the fuck is that “entitlement”?

    You were included at a family event. You were invited.

    There’s nothing ambiguous about an invitation that lists specific people. It means that the specific people listed on the invitation are invited, and no one else. If it’s a plus-one, it means you get to bring one person of your choice. If it’s “and family,” it means your immediate family.

    Your sense of entitlement is coming in because you’re choosing to see the invitation as ambiguous and the clarification that your child was not invited but you were as a disinvitation of you. It’s simply not. It’s a non-invitation of your child. While the practical effect of that is that you will not be able to attend, it does not in any way mean you, personally, were disinvited. As Lauren said, you can be tweaked that your child wasn’t invited, but you can’t be tweaked that you weren’t.

    Also, no one *has* to attend a wedding other than the couple getting married, the officiant, and a witness. No one else *has* to be invited to any party given afterwards, nor does anyone else *have* to attend that party even if invited. Which means that if you aren’t happy with the conditions given for the invitation (travel, black tie, no children, etc.), you don’t have to go. The only thing you need to do in that case is send your regrets so that the couple knows not to pay for your dinner and orders a bit less for the open bar. You don’t even need to send a gift if you don’t go.

  48. Lauren says:

    Obviously it’s everyone’s choice as to how to handle their own wedding — and personally, I think there’s way too much attention and focus in general on creating some sort of “perfect” event (who cares, 20 years later?) — but I don’t see babies as insurmountable obstacles. Most weddings I’ve been to (most of which have been Jewish) are full of children, at least at the reception, and I would find an adults-only wedding to be rather depressing. But maybe that’s just me.

    Totally agree. I opted out of having a wedding in large part because everyone and their mother wanted control over my guest list. Then it pissed people off that I didn’t have one altogether.

    I really like kids, babies up through teenagers, and while I might see the appeal of having an adults-only black tie event, it’s just not my scene. It seems a little controlled and uptight. Kids are fun — I like having them at parties, especially weddings. They make the dance floor bearable.

  49. chava says:

    Yes, of course broad no-kid policies in the public at large have the effect of excluding mothers from social participation, this is well-trod ground. But making one formal event adults-only doesn’t exclude mothers as a class of people.

    People arranging social events for large groups of people have the privilege of planning the thing, and the people invited have the privilege to decline.

    Oh, I see, so it only counts as exclusionary in the public domain. My bad. And it’s “just one event,” right, I’ll make a note not to get my panties in a knot when social norms let these things happen at the individual level.

    Of COURSE they have the right to decide whom to invite. I just find those decisions douchey. Also, it’s hardly a “privilege to decline” when your kid won’t. take. a bottle. But I guess that’s my fault for not weaning to formula earlier, amirite?

    The point is, it’s some close family getting married, I would like to be there, and I’d like my family to be there. I can’t, because no kids. I find this upsetting and exlusionary. End.

  50. zuzu says:

    I think with weddings, given that there are often battles over the guest list going on, that it’s really extra presumptuous to just show up with a baby or young child in tow (or an extra adult guest, for that matter) when the couple expressed a wish to have an adults-only reception.

    You may not agree with the choice, but it is their choice, and they likely had to wrest control of the guest list from parents anyhow (I mean, you know that a 300-person guest list includes an awful lot of parental friends and business associates that the couple doesn’t know but the parents insisted be invited, especially if the parents are financially contributing to the shindig).

    What is it about weddings in particular that make everyone want to ride roughshod over the agency of the couple getting married?

  51. zuzu says:

    Of COURSE they have the right to decide whom to invite. I just find those decisions douchey. Also, it’s hardly a “privilege to decline” when your kid won’t. take. a bottle. But I guess that’s my fault for not weaning to formula earlier, amirite?

    The people planning a large, formal event have no obligation to micromanage your attendance. If you think they’re douchey, why on earth would you want to shell out money for a gift and an outfit to attend?

  52. chava says:

    Your sense of entitlement is coming in because you’re choosing to see the invitation as ambiguous and the clarification that your child was not invited but you were as a disinvitation of you. It’s simply not. It’s a non-invitation of your child. While the practical effect of that is that you will not be able to attend, it does not in any way mean you, personally, were disinvited. As Lauren said, you can be tweaked that your child wasn’t invited, but you can’t be tweaked that you weren’t.

    Yeah, so. 1) I do find it ambiguous, and several other people have said it isn’t a universally followed or clear point of etiquette. Kind of annoying, but whatevs.
    2) I find your distinction between the practical effect of the invitation and the formal intent of it rather trivial.

    As far as what I am and am not entitled to be righteously tweaked about–honestly, I’m irritated about both the fact that he isn’t invited and the fact that not inviting him means, in effect, not inviting me. The invitation wording is frustrating but inevitable with weddings.

  53. Past my expiration date says:

    While the practical effect of that is that you will not be able to attend, it does not in any way mean you, personally, were disinvited.

    If Person A invites Person B to an event, under conditions that Person A knows will make it impossible for Person B to come, does that count as an invitation?

  54. chava says:

    Zuze–

    1) I would NEVER just show up with the baby. That would be horribly rude. I’m just not going.

    2) I do like the couple. I just find this one decision of theirs douchy.

    3) They’ve got alllll the agency they want. I just reserve the right to find their decision irritating. How am I “running roughshod” over them? I didn’t do so much as imply that they were making an irritating decision when I declined.

  55. zuzu says:

    If Person A invites Person B to an event, under conditions that Person A knows will make it impossible for Person B to come, does that count as an invitation?

    Like I said, it’s not up to Person A to micromanage Person B’s attendance. Person A extends an invitation, knowing that there are things such as babysitters (who can be either at home or at the event location, like in the hotel room) which can make attendance easier.

    If this is a 300-person event, it is simply not Person A’s problem to optimize Person B’s experience. Person A has enough to do to plan the damn thing.

  56. chava says:

    But I really don’t think #2 is up to the party planner. I’m not in the business of managing my friends’ kids’ quirks, or my sisters’ kids’ quirks, nor vice versa. That’s a lot to ask.

    Lauren–

    Well, I’m kind of with you. However, I do think that plenty of babies have a hard time with bottles. It isn’t micromanaging to assume that infants are often super difficult to leave with someone else, for whatever reason. You can have a “children under one year and older than five” policy or something.

    Aside from which, pumping for that long of an event is more effort than I’m willing to really put in, but that’s a personal decision. I do think it’s invisible effort that doesn’t get thought about when people don’t invite kids, though.

    (Honestly, the most frustrating thing about this wedding is that they stuck it at 3PM on a Monday. Inconvenient for everyone, I guess. Whatever floats your boat, I guess)

  57. Jadey says:

    I think with weddings, given that there are often battles over the guest list going on, that it’s really extra presumptuous to just show up with a baby or young child in tow (or an extra adult guest, for that matter) when the couple expressed a wish to have an adults-only reception.

    What the? No one did this. No one advocated doing this. This is not at all what is being talked about. What the hell, zuzu? Where is this coming from?

    (In fact, I expressly pointed out above that asking to bring a nursing infant would be less inconvenient then asking to bring an extra older child or adult expressly because it doesn’t present additional logistical issues in seating or meal planning. Though at least Jill and perhaps you as well took this to mean something completely else like I was suggesting that people should totally bring along uninvited older kids without asking. Either way, no one said it was appropriate to just “show up” with someone extra of any age.)

  58. zuzu says:

    1) I would NEVER just show up with the baby. That would be horribly rude. I’m just not going.

    That’s good. But some people do choose to treat such specifications as optional, which causes a lot of problems.

    It’s just not the problem of the couple getting married to make certain you can attend. It’s their problem to plan the event and invite whom they wish to celebrate with. Not everyone can attend every event they’re invited to.

  59. EG says:

    I find your distinction between the practical effect of the invitation and the formal intent of it rather trivial.

    Maybe when it comes to wedding invitations, intent is magic, or something.

  60. zuzu says:

    What the? No one did this. No one advocated doing this. This is not at all what is being talked about. What the hell, zuzu? Where is this coming from?

    Relax. I’m not accusing chava of smuggling in her child. She’s already said she’s not going.

    It’s coming from the fact that there is a lot of open-interpretation of wedding invites in general, and a lot of people do show up with uninvited children or extra guests at a lot of weddings. It’s not specific to chava, though given that she interpreted an invitation to herself only to be ambiguous enough to include her child, chances are someone else might do the same. I’ve been privy to enough guest-list-related drama and read enough advice columns and chats from people on both sides of the adults-only wedding issue to know that this does happen, and it’s not cool.

    I was also expanding on Lauren’s point about control of the guest list.

  61. Chataya says:

    Ahaha. You know what strikes ME? The fucking disgusting classism displayed by people who assume that everyone can pay for a sitter or a nanny and so have the freedom to leave an infant in someone’s care while they swan off to beach holidays.

    FFS, finding someone to hold your infant or watch your toddler so you can attend a 45 minute wedding ceremony is not the same as hiring a sitter for a 3 day vacation.

  62. EG says:

    If this is a 300-person event, it is simply not Person A’s problem to optimize Person B’s experience. Person A has enough to do to plan the damn thing.

    No doubt. And nor is it up to Person B to regulate her irritation and resentment levels to meet with Person A’s approval.

    I find the idea of babysitting in the hotel room to be hysterically funny. Oh, I’m going to fly somewhere and stay in a hotel that has minimal security at best, and then leave an extremely vulnerable person whom I love deeply with a total stranger? I don’t think so.

  63. chava says:

    I

    t’s just not the problem of the couple getting married to make certain you can attend. It’s their problem to plan the event and invite whom they wish to celebrate with. Not everyone can attend every event they’re invited to.

    That’s totally correct. However, I think critiquing “no-kids at weddings” is fair game, when seen as part of a larger, commonly accepted cultural practice of excluding (many, not all) women and children from the public domain.

  64. chava says:

    FFS, finding someone to hold your infant or watch your toddler so you can attend a 45 minute wedding ceremony is not the same as hiring a sitter for a 3 day vacation

    Uh-huh. 45 mins because we’re not counting driving time, reception, or things like traffic jams, and assuming the wedding is local, right?

  65. zuzu says:

    A formal wedding isn’t the public domain.

  66. Lauren says:

    (Honestly, the most frustrating thing about this wedding is that they stuck it at 3PM on a Monday. Inconvenient for everyone, I guess. Whatever floats your boat, I guess)

    Oh FFS. 3PM Weekday Wedding! This is an excellent argument in favor of universal childcare for all.

  67. Past my expiration date says:

    Possibly somebody who has an adults-only black tie wedding at 3 pm on a Monday (assuming it’s not Labor Day or Memorial Day) doesn’t actually want anybody to come.

  68. chava says:

    A formal wedding isn’t the public domain.

    Uhm, yeah. That was kind of my point.

  69. chava says:

    (just checked; it’s on Labor Day. It ends up being tough for out-of-towners to return that way–usually you do the shindig on Sunday for a Jewish wedding–but it isn’t as odd as being on a non-holiday weekend)

  70. zuzu says:

    It could also be the only time/date they could get the venue, or be able to afford the venue. They might have to start early if it’s going to be a long event.

    Well, if you acknowledge that an invitation-only event is not the public domain, I’m not sure why you’re so upset that you were invited to an invitation-only event but had to decline. Many people have to decline such invitations for Reasons. The bride and groom don’t have to fix Reasons for you.

  71. chava says:

    No, Zuzu, they don’t. But I’m perfectly within my rights to critique the adults-only thing as symptomatic of a larger harmful cultural practice.

    Just because a wedding isn’t public domain like kicking mothers out of the courthouse, doesn’t mean that our private lives are not influenced and controlled by the dominant discourse surrounding such things.

    I don’t think it makes sense to only get upset at this junk occuring in the public domain; I do think you can and should only *legislate* in the public domain. But changing social norms in the private domain? Again, fair game for critique and discussion.

  72. zuzu says:

    But you’re not offering a critique of social norms, you’re whining that the bride and groom should have known your Reasons, and didn’t fix your Reasons for you because your Reasons are more important than their desires.

  73. chava says:

    Whatever, Zuzu. I think that my comments above offer some legit critique of the larger practice in the context of this personal event, but I understand if it reads to you as whining.

  74. zuzu says:

    I find the idea of babysitting in the hotel room to be hysterically funny. Oh, I’m going to fly somewhere and stay in a hotel that has minimal security at best, and then leave an extremely vulnerable person whom I love deeply with a total stranger? I don’t think so.

    Why does it have to be a total stranger?

  75. EG says:

    Sure, if you reduce the critique and discussion of the effects of no-child policies to “Reasons,” then you can simplify the whole thing really easily. Not accurately, but easily.

  76. EG says:

    Why does it have to be a total stranger?

    Because the odds of me knowing someone trustworthy in a strange city are slim to none?

  77. zuzu says:

    Your relatives are there, which is why you’re going to that city for the wedding.

    Or, you could bring someone you do trust with you.

  78. Donna L says:

    Just out of curiosity, Chava, let’s say that you and your baby did attend the wedding. What would you do during the actual ceremony? As I said above, if it were me I would probably just sit near an exit so I could leave unobtrusively if the baby started to cry. Being in the wedding party would complicate things, of course.

  79. EG says:

    Your relatives are there, which is why you’re going to that city for the wedding.

    Or, you could bring someone you do trust with you.

    I was assuming, it’s true, that the relatives would be at the wedding as well, and so unavailable for babysitting.

    And…I could? So now we’re tacking on an extra 200-300 bucks for somebody else’s flight, not to mention their meals and compensating them for the days away? I don’t know many families who can afford that, and by that, I mean “any.” I can guarantee you that I never will be able to afford it.

  80. Past my expiration date says:

    Why does it have to be a total stranger?

    Because otherwise you have to buy an extra plane ticket and hotel room for the caretaker.

    (And yes, of course there are circumstances where you wouldn’t have to buy an extra plane ticket and hotel room for the caretaker.)

    But really, why are we getting so far into the weeds? Here is the social norm: big expensive weddings with a no-baby policy. Here is Chava’s criticism: this norm excludes people who have babies who, for a variety of possible reasons, will not do well away from the people — and “people” in this case typically means “mothers”.

    I do not understand how this can be in dispute — except as a way of saying UR DOING IT RONG to the people who have babies who etc. etc.

  81. EG says:

    As a very good and well-trusted babysitting with years and years of experience, I have been asked to do something like that literally once. And I couldn’t go, because I had other commitments.

  82. chava says:

    @ Donna–

    I’d sit near the back, by a door if possible. Honestly I’d probably feed him through the ceremony if he wasn’t asleep, as it generally ensures Silence. Alternately, I’d wait outside with him or have his father do the same. Depends on the setup.

    I don’t think I’d take him out if he cooed a bit, but if he started wailing or being generally disruptive, absolutely.

  83. zuzu says:

    I was assuming, it’s true, that the relatives would be at the wedding as well, and so unavailable for babysitting.

    The relatives may have trusted babysitters available.

    I do not understand how this can be in dispute — except as a way of saying UR DOING IT RONG to the people who have babies who etc. etc.

    No, it’s a way of saying, “You are invited to this event that we’re having.” As I’ve been saying, it’s not up to the people hosting the event to grease the rails for every last person to be able to attend, especially when there are in fact ways for whatever Reasons preventing attendance to be overcome.

  84. Drahill says:

    This is why I find this whole thing odd:

    For the most part, in planning a wedding, guest lists were basically used not for actually figuring out who the actual people coming were and more for catering / venue price purposes. When you know who’s showing up, you know how much they’re going to cost and can do the menu accordingly. So on one hand, a very small baby is not going to increase the costs any, given that they won’t need a seat or be consuming any of the food. So in a way, a baby of that age is, at least for the catering and seating purposes, free by virtue of being an extension of the mother. So the whole “it’s another person who wasn’t invited” argument, to me, isn’t especially pervasive. You won’t have to pay to feed it. You won’t have to pay to seat it.

    I do get the argument that the child may fuss, make noise or otherwise not be amenable to the wedding. I had a ceremony that was deeply religious (and, given that I’m a Quaker, a period of silence). Yes, I do think that a baby, if they did cry, scream or fuss might have killed the ceremony a little. So that part, I get. However, I have a cousin with Tourette’s Syndrome who attended – and yes, made noise. It is the same thing? Hell no. But I don’t find the noise argument especially convincing either.

    Overall, I tend to side with Chava. Not because I don’t think that this particular couple has the right to set their own rules for their wedding – I do. I wouldn’t have wanted small kids there. But I do think that there aren’t many really good arguments against allowing an infant with their mother in. It doesn’t cost anything.

  85. EG says:

    The relatives may have trusted babysitters available.

    Oh, they may? That’s a relief. Of course, those would still be the aforementioned total strangers to me, so I direct you to my original assessment of “laughable.” And your assumption that families are just clustered so that one city will be just rife with trusted relatives who have children and trusted babysitters is endearing, but not reflective of the way many, many families work.

  86. EG says:

    As I’ve been saying, it’s not up to the people hosting the event to grease the rails for every last person to be able to attend, especially when there are in fact ways for whatever Reasons preventing attendance to be overcome.

    And what Chava has been saying is that it’s worth critiquing a social norm that subsumes “care of another human being” under “Reasons” and routinely prevents mothers, who are almost always women, from attending. What you’re saying is “it’s not public/political, it’s personal.” And what she’s saying is “personal social norms matter and have far-reaching effects on what we understand to be acceptable.”

  87. zuzu says:

    And what Chava has been saying is that it’s worth critiquing a social norm that subsumes “care of another human being” under “Reasons” and routinely prevents mothers, who are almost always women, from attending.

    A lot of people can’t attend big fancy black-tie weddings in distant states or cities. A lot of people can’t attend destination weddings. A lot of people aren’t able to go to local weddings or be in local weddings because they can’t afford the dress, the tux rental or the parties/gifts. It is not the responsibility of the couple getting married to fix everyone’s Reasons so they can attend. Their responsibility is to set a date, book a venue, and ask people to come.

    And I doubt that when a mother can’t attend an out-of-town wedding because her Reasons are baby-related, that the father goes by himself the majority of the time when he’s not actually in the wedding.

    Oh, they may? That’s a relief. Of course, those would still be the aforementioned total strangers to me, so I direct you to my original assessment of “laughable.” And your assumption that families are just clustered so that one city will be just rife with trusted relatives who have children and trusted babysitters is endearing, but not reflective of the way many, many families work.

    Whatever. All I’m saying is that there are, in fact, ways to attend an out-of-town wedding without your kids. Yes, they cost money, but so does travel to an out-of-town wedding. Other people manage it all the time. Or, they choose not to attend and are probably THRILLED that they have an excuse not to spend the money on attending a big fancy wedding and buying a gift for a cousin thrice removed.

  88. Kristen J. says:

    @Donna,

    Re: What to do during a ceremony.

    Most weddings I’ve been to, infants and smaller children hang out elsewhere during the actual ceremony with a parent or trusted adult since kids can be disruptive. Like the wedding we went to this year was in a large hotell with the ceremony on the beach. Mr, Kristen and as well as some of the nursing moms were probably 30 feet off to the sides with lollypops (stroke of genius with the lollypops)

  89. chava says:

    Most weddings I’ve been to, infants and smaller children hang out elsewhere during the actual ceremony with a parent or trusted adult since kids can be disruptive. Like the wedding we went to this year was in a large hotell with the ceremony on the beach. Mr, Kristen and as well as some of the nursing moms were probably 30 feet off to the sides with lollypops (stroke of genius with the lollypops)

    That’s a nice way to do it, too. Friend of mine w/a destination wedding screened a sitter for her kid-having friends, offered to pay for it, and set up a trial meeting with the sitter. That’s obvs above and beyond, but sweet.

  90. chava says:

    However, I have a cousin with Tourette’s Syndrome who attended – and yes, made noise. It is the same thing? Hell no. But I don’t find the noise argument especially convincing either.

    So, while I don’t like the children’s-rights discourse that equates children exactly to [pick oppressed group here], I do think that there’s not so much of a qualitative difference, there? Babies can’t help making noise, either. Putting aside the whole mothers/no mothers part of the argument, why DO we find it ok to corral the kids somewhere else, because disruption? I can see arguing that babies won’t miss it and and children would rather not sit through the dang thing anyway, but that could also hold for an older person with dementia. So…hm. Not making a strong case either way here, just thinking.

  91. EG says:

    Whatever. All I’m saying is that there are, in fact, ways to attend an out-of-town wedding without your kids. Yes, they cost money, but so does travel to an out-of-town wedding. Other people manage it all the time. Or, they choose not to attend and are probably THRILLED that they have an excuse not to spend the money on attending a big fancy wedding and buying a gift for a cousin thrice removed.

    Whatever? You’re the one who said that out-of-town babysitting wasn’t laughable. Since you obviously have no idea what the dynamics of out of town babysitting are, you were mistaken, but somehow my points are “whatever”? Sterling.

    “Yes, they cost money, but so does travel to an out-of-town wedding”? So, you’re eliding the cost of an extra ticket, compensation, meals, and probably a room for another person? If other people you know manage that all the time, I guess you move in more monied circles than I or anybody else I know does.

    I’m not sure what relevance people not wanting to go has here, so, you know, whatever.

    So, in total, nothing in the above paragraph is actually intellectually honest.

  92. EG says:

    A lot of people can’t attend big fancy black-tie weddings in distant states or cities. A lot of people can’t attend destination weddings. A lot of people aren’t able to go to local weddings or be in local weddings because they can’t afford the dress, the tux rental or the parties/gifts. It is not the responsibility of the couple getting married to fix everyone’s Reasons so they can attend. Their responsibility is to set a date, book a venue, and ask people to come.

    This has nothing to do with the paragraph of mine it’s supposed to be in response to.

    It’s as though I said “Yes, my grandfather’s companion’s Rosh Hashanah dinners are not public, but it is nonetheless a political issue and one deserving of critique that at them, the women bustle around the kitchen helping, while the men just sit at the table and wait for coffee to magically appear in front of them,” and you said “It’s not the job of your grandparents to address everybody’s Reasons for being unhappy with the dinner.”

    No. It’s not. But there is a larger social dynamic at work here that you seem hell-bent on ignoring.

  93. zuzu says:

    Whatever? You’re the one who said that out-of-town babysitting wasn’t laughable. Since you obviously have no idea what the dynamics of out of town babysitting are, you were mistaken, but somehow my points are “whatever”? Sterling.

    I’m whatevering your insistence that there is no acceptable solution. And, look, in comment 91, chava says herself that she thinks that the couple hiring a babysitter for the out-of-town guests’ kids is a swell idea.

    “Yes, they cost money, but so does travel to an out-of-town wedding”? So, you’re eliding the cost of an extra ticket, compensation, meals, and probably a room for another person? If other people you know manage that all the time, I guess you move in more monied circles than I or anybody else I know does.

    I don’t actually move in the kinds of circles where people throw 300-guest black-tie weddings, but Chava apparently does.

    It’s as though I said “Yes, my grandfather’s companion’s Rosh Hashanah dinners are not public, but it is nonetheless a political issue and one deserving of critique that at them, the women bustle around the kitchen helping, while the men just sit at the table and wait for coffee to magically appear in front of them,” and you said “It’s not the job of your grandparents to address everybody’s Reasons for being unhappy with the dinner.”

    No. It’s not. But there is a larger social dynamic at work here that you seem hell-bent on ignoring.

    I’m not ignoring it. What I am saying is that if you don’t like the conditions for an invitation-only event, you don’t go. You can certainly inform the host why you can’t attend, or ask for accommodations. But what you don’t get to do is claim that you weren’t effectively invited because you have idiosyncratic Reasons that you can’t hire a babysitter or you can’t ask the men to make coffee.

    Now, if you want to talk about children being excluded from movie theaters or public parks or small, casual family gatherings, that’s a different story.

  94. chava says:

    I don’t actually move in the kinds of circles where people throw 300-guest black-tie weddings, but Chava apparently does.

    Ever heard of rich relations? Ad hominem and as it happens, pointless.

  95. EG says:

    I’m whatevering your insistence that there is no acceptable solution. And, look, in comment 91, chava says herself that she thinks that the couple hiring a babysitter for the out-of-town guests’ kids is a swell idea.

    If I had said there was no acceptable solution, that would be a good point. Since what I said was hotel babysitting was laughable, not so much. And that’s great for you and chava to have agreement on that. Not relevant to me, but great.

    But what you don’t get to do is claim that you weren’t effectively invited because you have idiosyncratic Reasons that you can’t hire a babysitter or you can’t ask the men to make coffee.

    There’s nothing idiosyncratic about having a nursing infant. That’s the point. We live in a society that treats having children as some weirdo personal aberration, rather than a normal part of life. That’s exactly what’s being critiqued.

  96. zuzu says:

    There’s nothing idiosyncratic about having a nursing infant. That’s the point. We live in a society that treats having children as some weirdo personal aberration, rather than a normal part of life. That’s exactly what’s being critiqued.

    What’s idiosyncratic is that the infant cannot take a bottle at all. Many, many breastfeeding infants will do so, and it is reasonable for someone who is arranging an event to assume that an infant can be left in someone’s care for a period of time. It is also not malicious on the part of the host to fail to take every idiosyncracy of every invited guest into account.

    And again, it’s not impossible to attend with a nursing infant, nor is hotel or venue babysitting per se laughable.

  97. chava says:

    FWIW, I do think that the babysitting scenario above is a highly decent solution. In context, the friend’s wedding wasn’t adults’ only, the babysitting was offered if desired. That, to me, seems optimal. I’m still not a fan of categorically barring kids from weddings.

    I mention this above, but it’s worth reiterating–if you never allow children to be present at nice events, they will never learn how to behave at nice events. That’s different from the line of argument that excluding children (often) excludes mothers, but still important.

  98. Kristen J. says:

    Friend of mine w/a destination wedding screened a sitter for her kid-having friends, offered to pay for it, and set up a trial meeting with the sitter. That’s obvs above and beyond, but sweet.

    That would never work in our family! The grandparents would riot. A few years ago one set of cousins had an adults only dinner to thank the wedding party and they are *still* talking about it at every single family event. Seriously. Its overtaken the “wedding where the rice wasn’t cooked” as the wedding gossip.

  99. Past my expiration date says:

    it is reasonable for someone who is arranging an event to assume that an infant can be left in someone’s care for a period of time.

    Actually, I do not think that this assumption is reasonable — especially given the unspecificity of “someone” and “a period of time”. Though I did used to think that it was reasonable, when I had very little experience with babies.

    I also don’t think that “it is not impossible to” [do whatever] is the standard I would use. It’s not impossible to do all kinds of things that, nonetheless, many people find it difficult to do.

  100. zuzu says:

    Going to a wedding is not a right. It’s not even an obligation, unless you’re the one getting married, and even then, you can back out.

    Once again, the person holding the event gets to set the conditions for attendance at the event, no matter how butthurt it makes someone feel to be excluded or to be invited but unable to attend. If you don’t like the conditions, you have three options:

    1) Ask to be accommodated;
    2) If no accommodation is forthcoming, find a way to meet the conditions;
    3) Decline to attend (and 3a) (optional) inform the host of your reason).

    Just because #2 may be difficult for you, personally, does not mean that it’s unreasonable, or that the host has to move heaven and earth to fix whatever makes your attendance difficult. Nor does your host have an obligation to accommodate you, especially if that means they’d have to make a similar accommodation for others and they just don’t want to open that can of worms.

    You always have the option to decline any social event at all. For any reason!

  101. Past my expiration date says:

    Going to a wedding is not a right.

    Has anybody said that it is?

    And, agreed that going to a wedding is not a right, does it follow, therefore, that there should be no criticism of any social norms involving going to or not going to a wedding?

    For example, if there were a social norm for weddings to be held in places accessible only by a long flight of stairs, would it be irrelevant that this makes it difficult (though not impossible) for some (though not all) people with mobility impairments to attend? After all, these people with mobility impairments could always ask to be accommodated, hire somebody to carry them up the stairs, or turn down the invitation, right? And anybody with a mobility impairment who pointed out that holding weddings in places accessible only by a long flight of stairs tends to exclude people with mobility impairments would be an entitled whiner who thought they had a right to go to weddings?

    (Please note that I am not meaning to say that babies and mobility impairments are equivalent.)

  102. zuzu says:

    And anybody with a mobility impairment who pointed out that holding weddings in places accessible only by a long flight of stairs tends to exclude people with mobility impairments would be an entitled whiner who thought they had a right to go to weddings?

    That might be a good analogy if a) there weren’t any way for persons with mobility impairments to get to the venue; and b) if this were the norm in weddings (or if weddings were, as you said, “only” held in such venues).

    It’s not the norm in weddings to have adults-only. However, this particular couple chose to do so for their own reasons (or perhaps even reasons connected to the venue) and their choice should be respected. It’s not as if they’re opening a restaurant open to the general public and saying kids can’t come.

  103. Julie says:

    First off, blue milk, thank you for this excellent post.

    Secondly, I think what’s getting lost in all this talk of etiquette and procedure and how Chava should or shouldn’t have read the invitation is the fact that it is INCREDIBLY shitty for someone to not want to see a baby more than they do want to see a friend or family member. Think about that for a second. What if someone in your life told you, “keeping this aspect of your life away from me is more important to me than seeing you?” (50 points to the first person to compare babies to snuff films or heroin or whatever.)

    Also, as I approach my due date and learn about what it takes to take care of a newborn/infant, the more I realize that yes, a baby inhabits a separate physical body, but they are not capable of functioning as a completely separate person. If you’re breastfeeding, I’ve learned, you are tied to that kid, at least for the first month or two. And the “30% as much fun” rule that The Parenting Expert was nice enough to bestow on us seems to stem mainly from this type of exclusion and intolerance, where mothers are expected to completely sever their ties to their babies rather than just bring them to a public space. For god’s sake, if my baby cries at an event, I’ll take her out of the room.

    And yes, discussions like these are incredibly classist. Has anyone at all noticed that they only occur among women with a high level of economic privilege? When’s the last time anyone participated in a discussion among low-income women about how annoying children are and how they should be kept away from events at all costs?

    A feminism that’s hostile to children is a feminism that’s irrelevant to most people in the world. And by the way, on my wedding invitations, I didn’t list “and family” or “and children” after people’s names. It was assumed that people would bring their children; in my family, to demand that people leave their children at home would have been seen as utterly grotesque. Chava’s bad, my ass.

    • Jill says:

      Secondly, I think what’s getting lost in all this talk of etiquette and procedure and how Chava should or shouldn’t have read the invitation is the fact that it is INCREDIBLY shitty for someone to not want to see a baby more than they do want to see a friend or family member. Think about that for a second. What if someone in your life told you, “keeping this aspect of your life away from me is more important to me than seeing you?” (50 points to the first person to compare babies to snuff films or heroin or whatever.)

      Let’s be fair — it’s not that they don’t want to see the baby. It’s that it’s a formal wedding and they don’t want to have a baby screaming during the exchange of their wedding vows, which is a once-in-a-lifetime, intimate event. Positioning that decision as hostile to children or “not wanting to see a baby more than they do want to see a friend or family member” is inaccurate and unfair.

  104. Jill says:

    I’ll also add that I spent this morning at a (non-wedding) formal event that marked a big milestone in the life of a close friend. It was held at a formal location, and was both celebratory and formal. There were also two very loud babies. The parent of one of the babies would take the baby outside until it stopped screaming and then come back in, then go back out of the room when the screaming started up again — which resulted in a loud shuffle and a creaking opening and closing and opening and closing of a big oak door in an echo-y room. The parent of the other baby didn’t even attempt to go outside. The result was that I (and those around me) missed large segments of the speech and the ceremony because we couldn’t hear anything and were repeatedly distracted.

    Now maybe I’m a bad kid-hating person for feeling a little frustrated about that. I was just a guest in attendance, but if that had been my wedding? Yeah, I wouldn’t have been happy. And unfortunately no, not all parents leave the room if their baby is crying. Also, once the baby starts screaming during the ceremony, the ceremony has already been interrupted. Not that a wedding needs to be 100% perfect (and if I were getting married, I would not institute a no-kid rule, because like others have said, kids at the reception are fun and I generally would just want to include children), but I understand why some couples choose to not have babies there. Because babies are babies. And being babies, they scream and wail. And not everyone is ok with scream and wailing at their wedding. I think it’s unfair to brand them douchey anti-woman assholes for having that preference.

  105. zuzu says:

    Secondly, I think what’s getting lost in all this talk of etiquette and procedure and how Chava should or shouldn’t have read the invitation is the fact that it is INCREDIBLY shitty for someone to not want to see a baby more than they do want to see a friend or family member. Think about that for a second. What if someone in your life told you, “keeping this aspect of your life away from me is more important to me than seeing you?” (50 points to the first person to compare babies to snuff films or heroin or whatever.)

    You know, at a 300-person wedding, not everyone is going to be besties with the bride and/or groom. A lot of people are on the guest list not because they’re super-special to the happy couple, but because someone thought they should be invited because if you invite one person from Category X (say, first cousins or Mom’s business associates), you have to invite them all. In that case, failure to accommodate your request to bring your child, or failure to offer to pay for a babysitter when you say you can’t come unless you can bring your child may indicate your relative standing with the couple. Which may sting, but if you weren’t all that close to them to begin with (such that they knew all the quirks of your child), should you be surprised?

  106. chava says:

    @ Jill—
    There are several ways your friend could have handled that, none of which involved saying no kids, period. Babies make noise at sacred religious events in my community *all the time.* It’s seen as a joyous and funny thing, not an irritation. (within reason, of course–you take them out if it’s a problem).

    Children are a part of life, and excluding them from events that are supposed to be a celebration of life is just…wierd, and indictive of our cultural neurosis around children and women. I tend to think that our ceremonies should bend around and be compassionante towards children, the eldery, and other inconvenient folks.

    I feel like we get into a bit of a zero sum game with one side insisting that All Babies Scream All the Time, and the other side getting huffy and doing shit like bringing their kids uninvited and not taking them out when they actually *are* disruptive.

    (As a point of etiquette, fwiw, my family told me that you invite everyone in the household or you invite no-one. But ymmv.)

    @ Zuzu,

    Oh, how nice. First I’m a spoiled rich girl who can’t stop whining, and now the bride and groom just don’t like me that much. For the eleven millionth time, this is NOT about them. They’re nice people and close family. I blame a culture that thinks this sort of behavior is OK and even desirable, and denies that it can and does hurt women.

  107. su says:

    This is a fabulous post Bluemilk, “biggest heist” YES! and also biggest bait and switch, because this theft of women’s labour is absolutely central, yet as you point out, nobody outside of a restricted group is giving this any deep, critical thought, instead it’s all infighting and mother blame.

    I’d seen some stuff about the early socialist focus on economic surplus as the cause of oppressive social hierarchies (in the progression from itinerant, foraging societies to the agricultural revolution) but something about it rang false and then I saw a few pieces about “complex hunter-gatherer” societies, where there was a more hierarchical structure and much higher levels of conflict both within and between groups (including the taking of slaves), with no stable relationship between that and the degree of resource richness. This brought home to a layperson how complicated and intermingled the social and economic aspects are. It would be great to have more posts on this relationship and on how that has created a society where children and women with children are policed so that their very existence is deemed inappropriate in certain spaces.

  108. number9 says:

    I mention this above, but it’s worth reiterating–if you never allow children to be present at nice events, they will never learn how to behave at nice events.

    I’m actually a big proponent of this line of reasoning. Still, when folks are forking out an equivalent of a down payment on a 300-people formal black tie event, it’s their right not to want that event to be the practice run for kids learning how to act in public.

    We had a small wedding, 50 people. After the invites went out, one of my friends started insisting that I had to include her kids as a ring-bearer and a flower-girl. Those were not roles that we were even remotely interested in having in the ceremony, plus that would’ve put us over the 50 people limit and encouraged our families to start inviting additional people, plus Reasons. So I just reiterated that addressing the invite to couples or individual+guest meant “sorry, adults only.” She was butthurt for about a second, and then she realized that it was my event, my rules, apologized, and ultimately left the kids with the grandparents.

    Then my cousin, whose wife’s due date was expected to be a few months before the wedding, called to double-check if the event was to be adults-only. They already had a deal worked out that for all grown-ups only weddings, the partner related to the couple went and the other partner stayed home with the child. This time, he came and she stayed home with the baby. At a different wedding, she came and he stayed home. So, two situations, two solutions. And, no, I couldn’t have allowed them to bring their kid because a baby is different from toddlers and doesn’t need a seat or food. Because my friend just wouldn’t think about that; she would just see another child at an event she was told was adults-only, and she would feel hurt. And legitimately so.

    Weddings are so fucked-up in that allegedly they are all about the couple, but in reality what you usually get is “well, of course, it’s your wedding, and you should do what you want, BUT….” People really need to accept that even if it’s a big family event, it really is about the couple and should belong to them. Sure, it sucks that their decision means you might not be able to go, but all you can really do is tell them you respect their reasoning and send your regrets.

  109. And yes, discussions like these are incredibly classist. Has anyone at all noticed that they only occur among women with a high level of economic privilege? When’s the last time anyone participated in a discussion among low-income women about how annoying children are and how they should be kept away from events at all costs?

    Infuckingdeed. I grew up in a low-income family that rapidly moved to high-income, and am back at low-income while I study, and married into a similarly varied family. Asking anyone to leave kids behind would be unconscionable, not only because it’s just asshole, but because many of us don’t have the means to manage that, and we all know it.

    And seriously, if your concern is crying screaming babies during a ceremony, pacifiers, and getting the parents you invite to understand that if their babies start crying, they leave the room and don’t return until they stop. Why deny them the reception, dinner, family meeting, gift-giving, etc, etc ad nauseam just because you don’t want them there for the twenty minutes of the ceremony?

  110. Safiya Outlines says:

    That train is never late, it took 133 comments, but I knew we’d get there in the end.

    So strange how people never use disability or trauma as a reason to avoid any other group of people, just children.

  111. blue milk says:

    Ok, let’s wrap this discussion of babies and weddings up because it’s off-topic and getting fairly bogged down here.

    It seems like this stuff is something people have a burning desire to discuss.. I can consider drafting a post around this topic in the next few days if there is a really strong desire for it and we can have a shot at discussing it within some kind of more appropriate framework.. or we can just move on?

    Either way, I think the time has come to close the discussion of it here.

  112. Jill says:

    Ah, Blue Milk, I’m sorry for the derail! I take full asshole responsibility for that one. And as I should have said before, this was a great post. Thank you.

  113. Pingback: Swoonage « The Mamafesto

  114. Blue Milk, I am a great admirer. This was a superb post and I was very disappointed how completely it got derailed.

    You write:
    We are talking about the greatest heist in capitalist history, because it is estimated that unpaid work in the USA amounts to 50 per cent of all hours of work performed.

    And we talked about babies and weddings instead.

  115. SWNC says:

    It’s easy and so damn convenient to reduce conversations about feminism and mothering to sniping about whether or not babies should be in certain spaces. It prevents people from having to grapple with the larger issues—including the very, very important issue of how to create a feminism that listens to and respects mothers rather than dismissing them and their work in the way that larger society currently does.

  116. chava says:

    It’s easy and so damn convenient to reduce conversations about feminism and mothering to sniping about whether or not babies should be in certain spaces. It prevents people from having to grapple with the larger issues—including the very, very important issue of how to create a feminism that listens to and respects mothers rather than dismissing them and their work in the way that larger society currently does.

    I mean, yes? But it’s also easy to dismiss conversations about babies in certain spaces as having nothing to do with a “feminism that listens to and respects mothers,” no?

  117. su says:

    You can uncritically accept the patriarchal logic of quarantining mothers from the rest of society (noise! inconvenience!) if you like but then feminism is no longer a philosophy of liberation, it is nothing more than a guidebook to how privileged women can navigate life so as to avoid the worst effects of oppression.

    Once upon a time the community response to a fussing baby in a public space was for a whole bunch of people to take turns walking or holding the child so that the work was shared and the enjoyment of the gathering was also shared, equally, there are any number of places in the world where stepping off the plane with an infant in your arms immediately places you in just such a group, by all means question the logic by which that group is made up entirely of women, that has always been one of the chief concerns of feminism, but if your solution is to shame women with children into leaving a gathering that is nothing more than bigotry.

    The logic of capitalism has created this atomised society of individuals, again, if feminism is not about totally remaking society as a community of equals than it is not a philosophy of liberation, it is just a guide book on how to elbow your way to the best seats.

  118. Ashley says:

    Su, YES!!!!!!

    I have heard this “kids are loud and annoying can’t they just go away” crap so often that I’m anxious every time I leave the house. I don’t take public transportation because I have kids and am afraid of pissing people off. If I’m out at restaurant I often barely eat because not annoying people with kids is more important than not fainting from hunger. That happened yesterday, in fact.

    Your loud desire to not be slightly annoyed by immature children is seriously harming my life and contributing to my PPD. Sequestering mothers of small children is fundamentally unfeminist.

  119. Natalia says:

    Whoa. This thread really hit home for me.

    A few months ago, all three of us, me, husband, and the kid (who was 11 months old at that point) were invited to a wedding – and by all three of us, I mean that the kid’s name was on the invitation.

    A couple of weeks later we got a phone call saying that Lev is disinvited, because, in a nutshell, someone’s “foreign aunt” is flying in, and “she’s cranky and doesn’t like small children.”

    Lev is older now, and I usually have no problem leaving him with Nanny for the evening, but this one obviously stung. I get that weddings are difficult and relations notoriously hard to manage. My own wasn’t that long ago, and I’m thankful that it was a very informal event (and babies did make an appearance at the reception, though not for very long, as it got pretty raucous and went late into the night). Still, “Lev is invited! Oh wait, he’s not, actually! Tee hee!” just sucked. I would have been more understanding if there were a sincere apology attached, but it was more along the likes of, “You work anyway, so it’s not like you’re not used to leaving him at home. Why is this a big deal.” Gee thanks for deciding that for me, guys! Clearly, my presence at your celebration means a lot to you!

    Anyway, we decided we were better off not attending. I totally respect the Your Wedding, Your Rules thing – but when the rules are altered in a cavalier manner, it shows a lack of respect for people and their families. They got offended by our decision to not go, of course. I just found out that they’re now hoping to become parents – I wonder if they will see the situation in a new light when they do.

    This debacle really got me wondering about perceptions of motherhood. Kids are viewed as these weird aberrations, or, by the rich, as these accessories you can leave or take with you at your pleasure. The truth is, I miss Lev at work – and really look forward to events where we can be together. Being robbed of one, because *of course* someone else’s desires take precent, sucked.

  120. Mike says:

    Oh god yes. This whole post. I mean, I imagine there’s still going to be a shitstorm (isn’t there always a shitstorm?), but yes yes yes.

    The problem isnt capitalism, but the “race to the bottom.” The bottom, the people in society and the workforce, whom are easily replaceable, need to have a legal framework which sets a minimum somebody employed gets in therms of pay, care and rights. Employers want the most bang for the least buck, if they can they pay you for hard work with a loaf of bread and in countries where people have few or no rights, they pretty much do or they cant afford even that on their pay.

  121. EG says:

    Yes. That’s what capitalism is.

  122. Jadey says:

    Mike, is there a reason why you are singling out my comments on bluemilk’s posts when they appear to be completely irrelevant to the actual comments you are making? (Not that your comments are all that relevant to the OP.)

    I sense troll.

  123. Lolagirl says:

    Employers want the most bang for the least buck, if they can they pay you for hard work with a loaf of bread and in countries where people have few or no rights, they pretty much do or they cant afford even that on their pay.

    And this is completely acceptable and the bestest way to know that unfettered Capitalism is at work?

    I sense troll.

    FTW

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